The Open Innovation Research Cluster

for Non-Ferrous Metals at RWTH Aachen University

Project Overview

Current Projects

Ultra High Strength Aluminium Alloys for the Automotive Large-Scale Production

Solutions for structural vehicle components from ultra high-strength aluminium alloys, which can provide an alternative for ultra high-strength (hot formed) boron steels, will be worked out in this project. Thereby the optimisation of the process chain “from sheet to component” is in the center with the target of a production suitable for large-scale. Further project focuses will be new / adapted joining concepts as well as new simulation tools for the process (forming simulation) and component simulation (crash). more...

Prediction of Final Properties

Detailed knowledge of the heat treatment process of aluminum castings has the potential to lower the energy consumption during heat treatment, take full advantage of the material’s potential and increase the competitiveness of the casting industry in general. more...

Design and Process Development of hollow structural HPDC Components (high Pressure Die Cast)

  • Substitution of welded steel sheet components e.g. torque box
  • Adopt casting to Joining Technology/  Develop appropriate joining technology 
  • Casting process development (HPDC) of hollow structural component using lost cores
  • Design of weight reduced Al-component (casting) more...

Tailor rolling of High Strength Aluminium Alloys

The usage of Aluminum alloys has significantly increased in recent years leading to a substantial weight reduction. This weight reduction trend has to be maintained to additional light weighting technologies. Tailor rolled Blanks (TRB) offer an interesting solution through an adequate thickness distribution through the blank allowing for an optimized usage of the weight where it is requested. This technology is however restricted right now to steels. The industrial feasibility of TRB with high strength Aluminum alloys still needs to be demonstrated. In particular the solution heat treatment phase which is necessary in order to guarantee final properties needs to be demonstrated. more...

Aluminum Casting for High Volume Production of Structural Nodes in BIW

Decreasing the body in white’s (BIW) weight is considered as one of the solutions, which might have a great impact on the emissions’ reduction potential.

This weight reduction can be achieved by the integration of lightweight materials, such as Aluminum, in the vehicle body structures, in the form of castings. more...

Project 19

Simulation of microstructure and yield stress during natural and artificial aging of Al-Mg-Si automotive sheet

Project 21

Online Topography Measurement of Aluminium during Cold-Rolling

Further processing of cold-rolled metal sheets requires a homogeneous 3D distribution of the roughness parameters mostly. The only possibility to react on the rolled surface changes immediately, for instance by strip tension, is an online roughness measurement. But the roughness measurement is a challenge. This is primary based on the non isotropically reflecting aluminium surface and the oscillating strip in an lubricant mist environment.

Project 22

UnICorn - Understanding the Intergranular Corrosion of 6000 Aluminum Alloys

Heat treatable aluminum alloys from the 6000 series, alloyed with Mg and Si, have several attractive properties, such as good formability, moderate strengths and good corrosion resistance; however, these alloys may develop susceptibility to intergranular corrosion (IGC) as a result of improper heat treatments or alloying.

The exact mechanisms which cause the preferential intergranular attack still remain unclear. Several theories to this topic have been published, including the formation of atomic Cu enrichments on the grain boundaries, the formation of grain boundary phases and the formation of depletion zones around the grain boundaries. Common to all these microstructural variations is the formation of microgalvanic couples between the grain boundary and its adjacent region, causing the dissolution of the grain boundary or its surrounding.

One limiting factor for understanding the IGC of 6000 alloys is the huge diversity of materials having been investigated to this day. The variations in chemical composition, heat treatment condition and manufacturing process as well as the used analytical methods do not allow for a methodical analysis of the IGC mechanisms.

Therefore, the present project aims on the understanding of the influence of alloying, heat treatment condition and manufacturing process on the intergranular corrosion mechanisms of 6000 aluminum alloys. The mechanisms will be investigated through combination of electrochemical corrosion tests and state-of-the-art microstructural analysis under consideration of the mechanical properties. Finally, the results of this project will provide a new milestone in designing high-strength and corrosion resistant aluminum alloys.

Cast Part Feasibility Assessment Method

In-service performance of cast parts not only depends on part design, but also on manufacturing effects like part orientation in mold, gating & feeder system (size, location) and process parameters (filling rates, melt & die temperatures). Casting process restrictions and requirements are of equal importance as attribute requirements (strength, durability, NVH, crash).

Conventional component optimization relies on expert skills and expert guided analysis loops. MDO tools as well as design engineers require fully automated tools & expert systems to evaluate the feasibility and quality of cast parts upfront, quantitatively and efficiently.

The objective is to develop an automatic tool set to run casting simulations, to quantify existing casting process know-how, to make it available for automatic evaluation schemes and to provide validation example parts. more...